It’s more about being sensible …………
Click on the above link to see how it can be done………
It’s more about being sensible …………
Click on the above link to see how it can be done………
John Renbourn. Not exactly a household name in 2019 but back in the day (mid-1960s), his name was synonymous with the innovations in Acoustic Finger Picking guitar styles. That era was a hot bed of musical innovation for acoustic guitar players. In the UK and Ireland the “folk music revival” of that time fostered interest in the American acoustic finger picking styles of the Rev. Gary Davis, Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, Elizabeth Cotten, Dave Van Ronk, Joseph Spence, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Merle Travis and many more “roots” musician. Guitarists of today probably do not realize the extent of the volatility of the acoustic guitar scene of that era. Memories of that scene have been somewhat over shadowed by the explosive growth of the “British Rock and Roll” phenomenon and the electric guitar scene that followed shortly after. At that time acoustic guitarists were very fortunate to be exposed to the increased availability of recorded material, a huge number of touring folk musician legends, and a steady improvement in the quality of acoustic instruments. The acceptance of the guitar into the traditional folk scene was not immediate. The guitar was then considered foreign to the unaccompanied vocal traditions that were prevalent in the British folk clubs. However, a number of acoustic guitarists adapted the imported styles and created blends of techniques and musical styles to create new, unique ways of playing “folk music”. Innovators of the day included Davey Graham (the inventor of DADGAD tuning), Nic Jones, Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch and of course John Renbourn. Most of the innovators have gone and the only one still playing at the peak of his powers is probably Martin Carthy. Nic Jones is till alive but still suffering the effects of a catastrophic car accident. On March 26, 2015 at the age of 70 years John Renbourn passed away.
I was very fortunate to be in Banff on Thursday, September 26, 2001. I was coming off a back packing trip to Mount Assiniboine when I spotted a poster for a concert by John Renbourn at the Banff Centre. I was fortunate enough to land a seat no more than six feet away from John. I had smuggled in my camera and I managed to snap some illegal photos right at the end of the show. That was just before I was nailed by the usher. It was a small price to pay for the opportunity. Apart from the music the thing that struck me most about this master musician was how old looked. He must have been only in his late 50’s but he looked more like eighty. He did have a reputation for living hard and it showed when he shuffled on stage, sat down and had to physically hoist his one leg across his knee to support his guitar. That didn’t seem to impair his technical ability or his musicianship. It was a memorable concert and one that has come flooding back after viewing this attached video.
I think the video speaks for itself. There are some interesting anecdotes as well as demonstrations of John’s playing. Clive Carroll is a name that is new to me but obviously one deserving of attention. His playing ranks right up there with other modern masters and I am looking forward to hearing more of his work.
Also here is a video of John performing one of his iconic master pieces – SWEET POTATO
After viewing the videos I went looking for the photos I took on that night to add to this blog. They are buried deep in the masses of photos I have taken over the years and I have not been able to find them. But all was not lost. I did a search on the internet and lo and behold I came up with a link to my original article written at the time. So here are the photos ……
All in all it has been a nice reminder that there is more to guitar playing than strumming three chords.
The East African country’s campaign to end cervical cancer through the HPV vaccine has had to overcome cultural taboos and rumours about infertility – but it’s saving lives.
Girls began queuing at their local school with their friends, waiting for their names to be called. Many were apprehensive. After all, most of them had not had a vaccination since they were babies. It was 2013 and a new vaccine had arrived in Kanyirabanyana, a village in the Gakenke district of Rwanda. Reached by a reddened earth road, the village is surrounded by rolling hills and plantations growing crops from bananas to potatoes. Unlike the 10 vaccines already offered to young children as part of the country’s immunisation programme, this vaccine was different: it was being offered to older girls, age 11–12, in the final year of primary school.
Three years before, Rwanda had decided to make preventing cervical cancer a health priority. The government agreed a partnership with pharmaceutical company Merck to offer Rwandan girls the opportunity to be vaccinated against human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer.
This was the first time an African country had embarked on a national prevention programme for cervical cancer. Could Rwanda become the first country in Africa to eliminate it?
It was an ambitious goal. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Rwandan women, and there were considerable cultural barriers to the vaccination programme – HPV is a sexually transmitted infection and talking about sex is taboo in Rwanda. Added to this, rumours that the vaccine could cause infertility made some parents reluctant to allow their daughters to be vaccinated.
Rwanda’s economy and history also made it seem an improbable candidate for achieving high HPV vaccination coverage. After the 1994 genocide, it was ranked as one of the poorest countries in the world. High-income countries had only achieved moderate coverage of the HPV vaccine; if the United States and France couldn’t achieve high coverage, how could Rwanda?
Worldwide, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. There were an estimated 570,000 new cases in 2018 – and over 310,000 deaths, the vast majority in low- and middle-income countries. Sub-Saharan Africa has lagged behind the rest of the world in introducing the HPV vaccine and routine screening, which means the cancer often isn’t identified and treated until it has reached an advanced stage.
Almost all cases of cervical cancer are caused by HPV. It is one of the commonest sexually transmitted infections globally, and most of us are infected with at least one type of genital HPV at some point in our lives – usually as teenagers or young adults. In most cases the virus is harmless and resolves spontaneously without causing any symptoms such as genital warts.
There are more than 100 strains of HPV, at least 14 of which can cause cervical cancer and a range of less common cancers, including of the penis, vagina and anus. Persistent infection with two strains of HPV, 16 and 18, is responsible for 70 per cent of cervical cancer cases.
The first vaccine against HPV became available in 2006. This was the culmination of decades of work, notably by scientists in Germany, who in 1983 discovered the link between HPV infection and cervical cancer.
Ian Frazer and Jian Zhou at the University of Queensland, Australia, then jointly developed the technology that enabled the HPV vaccine. Using recombinant DNA technology, they built the shell of the virus from scratch and made an ‘empty’ human papillomavirus in the lab.
“This was something nobody had achieved before,” Frazer says. They realised this empty, non-infectious HPV could be used as a vaccine to prevent HPV and cervical cancer.
The news that there was a new vaccine which could drastically reduce the number of women getting cervical cancer went around the world. But with the excitement about the new vaccine came the realization that not all girls would have the same opportunity to receive it. It was likely that at least a decade would pass between its introduction in high-income countries and in low-income countries.
Today there are three HPV vaccines – Gardasil and Gardasil 9, made by Merck, and Cervarix, made by GSK. All are highly effective at preventing infection with virus types 16 and 18. The newest – Gardasil 9 – was licensed in 2014 and protects against nine types of HPV, which between them cause around 90 per cent of cervical cancers.
More than 800,000 people died in the Rwandan genocide, and its widespread destruction left the country devastated. Coverage of most World Health Organization-recommended childhood vaccinations plummeted to below 25 per cent. But within 20 years, the number of babies in Rwanda receiving all recommended vaccinations, such as polio, measles and rubella, had increased to around 95 per cent. Rwandans’ life expectancy more than doubled between 1995 and 2011. The Rwandan government had demonstrated the determination and thoroughness of its approach to vaccinations. Could it now have the same success with HPV?
Before the HPV vaccine arrived in Kanyirabanyana, 63-year-old Michel Ntuyahaga, a community health worker, spent weeks canvassing his village, going to each of the 127 mud-brick houses to inform parents about the upcoming vaccination campaign.
Joined by a nurse, he explained to parents that if they had an adolescent daughter, they had an opportunity for her to be vaccinated against a deadly women’s disease – cervical cancer.
“I explained to parents that the cancer is a disease and that the one measure to prevent it is vaccination,” he says.
Ntuyahaga wasn’t the only person educating the community about the vaccination campaign.
Constantine Nyiransengiyera has been a primary school teacher in Kanyirabanyana for the past 13 years. In addition to teaching maths, science, French and English, she was – and continues to be – responsible for gathering all the 12-year-old girls at the local school to educate them about the HPV vaccine.
Silas Berinyuma, a leader in Kanyirabanyana’s Anglican church for the past 24 years, preached about the importance of the vaccine for weeks before it arrived in the village. The church used drama to depict scenes of cervical cancer’s devastating impact. This continues today.
The same awareness campaign was taking place around the country – Rwanda has a network of 45,000 community health workers, volunteers who are present in every village. Bugesera is a district in the Eastern Province, not far from the border with Burundi. Billboards line roads through the district, advertising soft drinks alongside public health messages. One says: “Talk to your children about sex, it may save their lives.”
Not far off the main road is Karambi, a village surrounded by banana plantations. Toddlers roll tyres down the red-earth roads, teenagers carry handfuls of firewood on their heads, and adults herd cows and goats.
In 2013, the then 12-year-old Ernestine Muhoza was vaccinated against HPV at her school. “The teachers called just girls for assembly and told us that there was a rise of a specific cancer among girls aged 12 and that it was time for us to get vaccinated,” she says.
When she went home to tell her parents about the vaccination, they’d already heard about it on the radio and via community health workers.
Muhoza’s parents readily agreed. But not every parent did. Some were sceptical. Why, they wondered, would their girls be getting vaccinated now, at this age? Why couldn’t all girls and women receive the vaccine? And rumour had it that the vaccine would make girls infertile.
Community health worker Odette Mukarumongi worked tirelessly in Karambi to counteract the rumours. “I told parents that a girl will go into constant menstruation – like endless bleeding – if she gets cervical cancer,” she says.
Mukarumongi says parents eventually “surrendered” and allowed their daughters to be vaccinated. Today, she says, parents rarely refuse, now that they can see the widespread acceptance of it in the community.
In Kanyirabanyana, Ntuyahaga worked similarly hard to convince parents that the vaccine wouldn’t stop their daughters from being able to conceive.
“Parents had heard that the vaccine made girls infertile. We struggled to explain to them it wasn’t true – that it was better to vaccinate their daughters against the cancer because if they got it they would become infertile,” he says.
Community health workers and nurses visited homes with posters of women’s reproductive organs to show parents the damage cervical cancer could do to their daughters.
Felix Sayinzoga, manager of the maternal, child and community health division at the Ministry of Health, says: “Rwandans are really afraid about cancer so it was easy [to roll the vaccine out]. It was also about the trust the community has in the government. That was really important – the community knows that we do not bring things that are not good for them.”
The current health minister, Diane Gashumba, agrees that trust in the government has been critical in supporting the vaccine’s uptake, but admits that the rumours surrounding it were difficult to quash.
“The rumours were not anticipated. But, of course, as the HPV vaccine was a new vaccine for a new target group there were many questions.” She adds that church and village leaders, community health workers and radio programmes played an integral role in dispelling myths about the vaccine.
Despite the vaccine’s potential to save lives – millions of them – HPV vaccination has been mired in controversy and hostility, and this has heightened in recent years.
The vaccine is recommended for girls, and in some countries for boys aged 12 to 13 too, because this is before sexual activity begins, bringing the risk of exposure to HPV. This has resulted in the vaccine being linked with promiscuity – a belief that vaccinating young girls against an STI sexualises them and encourages sexual activity. There is no evidence that boys or girls who receive the vaccine have sex earlier than those who do not have the vaccine. But this concern is one of the reasons that India – a country where more than 67,000 women die from cervical cancer every year – has refused to introduce HPV vaccine into its routine immunisation programme.
Leela Visaria, social researcher and honorary professor at the Gujarat Institute of Development Research in India, says: “The underlying reason why people don’t want it [the vaccine] is the fact it’s given to adolescent girls. They fear that girls will become promiscuous.”
Parents’ concerns about the HPV vaccine have been further fuelled by false claims about its safety. This misinformation has spread rapidly, worldwide, on social media. Japan’s take-up rate has plunged from more than 70 per cent to less than 1 per cent. Coverage has also dropped in parts of Europe, such as Denmark. In Ireland, conversely, a targeted social media campaign is reversing a sharp decline in the HPV vaccination rate.
Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, agrees that there is a problem in the fears that the vaccine sexualises young girls. “The other problem is that the anti-vax movement has been making false assertions about it – claims that it leads to autoimmune diseases and paralysis.
“I think the movement is attempting to draw a line in the sand and say, ‘no more vaccines’ and when something like HPV comes along they are throwing everything they can at it. It’s having a devastating impact. I worry that we will start to export this garbage and it will impact vaccine uptake in Africa.”
“Initially, when the HPV vaccine was introduced in different countries, there were differences of opinion on whether to focus on HPV and how it’s transmitted, or to focus on the fact that HPV leads to cancer and this vaccine will prevent cancer,” says Mark Feinberg. He is the former chief public health and science officer at Merck who was involved with the Rwanda programme.
“Rwanda emphasised cancer prevention. It sought to communicate that the vaccine is here to protect young women from cervical cancer.”
Sayinzoga, from the Ministry of Health, agrees that policy makers made a conscious decision not to link the vaccine with sex. “For us, we didn’t associate the vaccine with sex. We rather focused on the side-effects of cervical cancer: that it can cause infertility. Sex wasn’t part of the campaign,” he says.
It’s a decision that is widely accepted by public health experts as the right one.
Ian Frazer, the immunologist who co-invented the first HPV vaccine, says: “The HPV vaccine has had a negative association. It has turned cervical cancer into an STI, which it is, of course, but we have to be careful. There is a right messaging for every country. Now we just talk about it as a vaccine to prevent cervical cancer. I think that’s the right strategy.”
In Karambi, Muhoza, who is now 17 years old, says: “You know, there are some things that cannot be talked about openly, especially when they relate to sex.”
When Rwanda and Merck signed their agreement, it meant that from 2011 the pharmaceutical company would supply the country with HPV vaccinations for three years at no cost.
As one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, Merck wanted to demonstrate that it was feasible to introduce the vaccine in low-income countries in the hope that Gavi – a global health alliance to increase access to vaccination in these countries – would take note and get on board.
“Yes, Merck is a for-profit company, but our motivation was to maximize the impact of the vaccine. We wanted to find ways of enabling its innovations to be more broadly available,” says Feinberg, who is now president and CEO of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
“You quickly recognise that you have a vaccine that can have such a major impact in preventing cervical cancer, and the greatest disease burden is concentrated in the world’s poorest communities. You cannot with any conscience not come forward and make the vaccine affordable and create a sustainable vaccination programme.
“The programme in Rwanda had two purposes: to get the vaccine to a population who could benefit, but also to demonstrate what was possible. Rwanda is an incredible country in its commitment to national health. If it wasn’t possible in Rwanda, we knew it wouldn’t be possible anywhere else.”
Rwanda’s decision to partner with Merck wasn’t without its critics. In a scathing letter to the Lancet, German public health researchers voiced “serious doubts” that the HPV programme was “in the best interest of the people”. A major issue, they contended, was that while the burden of cervical cancer in the region was substantial, there were far more pressing diseases to vaccinate against, such as tetanus and measles.
Rwanda’s then Minister of Health, Agnes Binagwaho, replied publicly in a letter co-signed by two US researchers. They said that Rwanda already had very high vaccination rates for tetanus and measles, and asked: “Are the 330,000 Rwandan girls who will be vaccinated against a highly prevalent, oncogenic virus for free during the first phase of this programme not regarded as ‘the people’?”
Drawing an analogy with earlier opposition to antiretroviral therapy in Africa, they said that such objections were “the latest backlash against progressive health policies by African countries. When the possibility of prevention exists, writing off women to die of cancer solely because of where they are born is a violation of human rights.”
Binagwaho, now vice-chancellor at the University of Global Health Equity in Rwanda, is still scathing about the critics of the decision to rollout the HPV vaccine. “The people who have created a backlash haven’t done their homework – they don’t know our country, they don’t know that our kids are well vaccinated with other vaccines available. [The HPV vaccine is] a great tool to prevent one of the most ravaging women’s cancers. It is less costly to prevent cervical cancer and all its suffering.”
Rwanda has proved to the world that it can achieve excellent HPV vaccination coverage. The Ministry of Health reports that 93 per cent of girls now receive the vaccine.
Almost all Rwandan girls attend school, and the systematic inclusion of local and religious leaders, community health workers and teachers in the vaccine delivery strategy has proved highly effective in spreading the message about the benefits of the vaccine and combating myths.
“I think some of the biggest reasons why Rwanda has been so successful is, first and foremost, the political will and national mobilisation, and secondly, that they decided to do a school-based programme,” says Claire Wagner, a student at Harvard Medical School who formerly worked as research assistant to Binagwaho.
The success in getting girls vaccinated has boosted confidence that the country is making rapid progress towards eliminating the disease. “We are working on our goal. We put our people first,” says health minister Gashumba.
Since 2006, over 80 countries have introduced the HPV vaccine into their routine immunization programmes. The majority are high-income, from Australia to the United Kingdom to Finland. These countries also have screening programmes for HPV and are moving from the pap smear test to a more advanced test, taken every five years, that detects high-risk HPV infections before cancer develops.
In Rwanda, before the HPV vaccine was introduced in 2011, there was no cervical cancer screening available in public health facilities – a few private clinics and NGOs offered it sporadically. Along with the vaccination programme, Rwanda also launched a national strategic plan for the prevention, control and management of cervical lesions and cancer. Women are meant to undergo visual inspection of cervix with acetic acid (VIA) at their local health centre or district hospital. Done by nurses and doctors, the screening is available to women with HIV aged 30 to 50, and other women aged 35 to 45. It’s unclear how effective and widespread this screening is.
“The problem with VIA is that one in five women will be positive but only 5 per cent need to be treated. That is an enormous cost to the healthcare system,” Frazer says. “If we want quick results we need to have some type of screening programme, but there’s a lot of debate about what that should look like in the developing world and how feasible it is.”
In Bugesera, community health worker Odette Mukarumongi says the closest health centre doesn’t do cervical cancer screening. Instead, she tells girls and women that if they experience any symptoms, like pelvic pain or constant menstruation, they should go to the health centre for a check-up.
Given that most cervical cancer cases occur in women in their 40s and 50s, if Rwanda is going to eliminate cervical cancer it will need a robust screening programme that reaches all women – women who have not benefited from the vaccine.
Countries across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia have struggled to implement cervical screening programmes. Given geographical challenges, lack of funding, and competing health issues such as HIV and malaria, cervical cancer hasn’t been a priority for most policy makers. While it accounts for less than 1 per cent of all cancers in women in high-income countries, in low- and middle-income countries it’s almost 12 per cent. This is why the HPV vaccine is so critical: for girls and women in these countries it is their best – and often only – line of defence against the disease.
Another factor in the success of Rwanda’s campaign to end cervical cancer will be its ability to sustain the HPV vaccination programme. In 2014, Merck’s donation of Gardasil ended. As Feinberg had hoped, the Gavi alliance announced it would support Rwanda’s HPV programme through a co-financing model. Rwanda pays 20 cents per dose of the vaccine, and Gavi covers the remainder of the $4.50 cost. As the country’s economy continues to grow, its co-financing obligations will rise until it reaches a threshold after which Gavi support will phase out over a five-year period. Eventually, Rwanda will fully finance its HPV vaccine.
Will the country be able to afford this?
Sayinzoga from the Ministry of Health admits he’s concerned about the country’s ability to pay for the vaccine in future. “The HPV vaccine is very expensive. What we are doing annually is looking at how we can plan for the next three years. We were in need and we accepted Merck’s help. We need to invest in the life of our people,” he says.
Gashumba says the Ministry is exploring options to make the vaccination programme sustainable, such as including the vaccine in health insurance.
Whatever the challenges in the future, Rwanda has today achieved remarkably high coverage of the HPV vaccine for girls – an extraordinary public health achievement that should inspire countries around the world.
As Rwanda gears up for a new round of vaccinations later this year, the immunologist responsible for the vaccine that has saved so many women’s lives believes the world cannot be complacent. “You can’t be happy until everyone has been vaccinated,” Frazer says.
“Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccines are vaccines that prevent infection by certain types of human papillomavirus. Available vaccines protect against either two, four, or nine types of HPV. All vaccines protect against at least HPV type 16 and 18 that cause the greatest risk of cervical cancer. It is estimated that they may prevent 70% of cervical cancer, 80% of anal cancer, 60% of vaginal cancer, 40% of vulvar cancer, and possibly some mouth cancer. They additionally prevent some genital warts with the vaccines against 4 and 9 HPV types providing greater protection.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends HPV vaccines as part of routine vaccinations in all countries, along with other prevention measures. The vaccines require two or three doses depending on a person’s age and immune status. Vaccinating girls around the ages of nine to thirteen is typically recommended. The vaccines provide protection for at least 5 to 10 years. Cervical cancer screening is still required following vaccination. Vaccinating a large portion of the population may also benefit the unvaccinated. In those already infected the vaccines are not effective.
HPV vaccines are very safe. Pain at the site of injection occurs in about 80% of people. Redness and swelling at the site and fever may also occur. No link to Guillain–Barré syndrome has been found.
The first HPV vaccine became available in 2006. As of 2017, 71 countries include it in their routine vaccinations, at least for girls. They are on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system. The wholesale cost in the developing world is about US$47 a dose as of 2014. In the United States it costs more than US$200. Vaccination may be cost effective in the developing world. —– Wikipedia
“Research studies have shown early signs of the vaccine’s success including: a 77% reduction in HPV types responsible for almost 75% of cervical cancer. almost 50% reduction in the incidence of high-grade cervical abnormalities in Victorian girls under 18 years of age.”
“How effective is the HPV vaccine? The HPV vaccine provides almost 100% protection from nine HPV types 6, 11, 16, 18, 31, 33, 45, 52 and 58), if all doses are received at the correct intervals, and if it is given before you have an infection with these types.” —– Wikipedia
I think the video speaks for itself:
If there is ever a right person at the right place at the right time then Jacinda Kate Laurell Ardern is it. She is the current Prime Minster of New Zealand, one of the youngest leaders on the world stage with a political style and personal popularity that must be the envy of politicians everywhere. Oh, by the way she gave birth to a baby while in office. Here is a clip of Jacinda in action at the UN during the same session that was also addressed by Donald Trump. What a contrast between her lucid, positive logical speech and Donald Trump’s boorish presentation filled with negativity. The contrast of a passionate young woman versus the tired rhetoric of a fat old white man is so glaring that it is easy to believe that the USA Empire is in decline.
New Zealand is incredibly fortune to have Jacinda at the helm during the Christchurch Massacre. Her empathy with the victims, her swift condemnation of racism and almost immediate implementation of strict Gun Control can only be praised and admired.
Politically this is what she is about (Wikipedia):
Ardern has described herself as a social democrat, a progressive, a republican and a feminist citing Helen Clark as a political hero, and has called capitalism a “blatant failure” due to the extent of homelessness in New Zealand. She advocates a lower rate of immigration, suggesting a drop of around 20,000–30,000. Calling it an “infrastructure issue”, she argues, “there hasn’t been enough planning about population growth, we haven’t necessarily targeted our skill shortages properly”. However, she wants to increase the intake of refugees.
Ardern believes the retention or abolition of Maori electorates should be decided by Māori, stating, “[Māori] have not raised the need for those seats to go, so why would we ask the question?” She supports compulsory teaching of the Maori language in schools.
On social issues, Ardern voted in favor of same-sex marriage and believes abortion should be removed from the Crimes Act. She is opposed to criminalizing people who use cannabis and has pledged to hold a referendum on whether or not to legalize cannabis in her first term as prime minister. In 2018, she became the first prime minister of New Zealand to march in a gay pride parade
Referring to New Zealand’s nuclear-free policy, she described taking action on climate change as “my generation’s nuclear-free moment”.
Ardern has voiced support for a two state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She has condemned the deaths of Palestinians during protests at the Gaza border.
The accused perpetrator of this horrendous act in Christchurch, New Zealand (Friday, March 15, 2019) is a 28 year old Australian. Why did it take place in New Zealand and not Australia? This is conjecture on my part, but I think the answer to the question may be fairly simple – the gun laws in Australia are more stringent than in New Zealand. He may have had easier access to his weapons of choice in a country that has an entrenched gun culture. For many years New Zealand has had an eradication policy for all non-indigenous animals that have proven to be detrimental to the ecology of the islands. These include pigs, possums, deer and other species. The result is that recreational hunting is a way of life for a significant number in the community. There are huge recreational and commercial interests at stake in any discussion of gun control and these interests resist any restriction on the ownership and use of guns. To get some idea of the commercial interest at stake, in the early 1970s there was a newspaper article on the commercial hunting of deer in the South Island. Commercial venison providers would drop freezer units and staff into select locations to dress slaughtered animals for export as frozen venison. To achieve maximum use of resources hunters would go into remote valleys in military style gunship helicopters and with automatic weapons shoot animals from the air. The article went on to state that as many as three thousand animals a week were being taken out of some of these valleys. This was (is) big business. So with the potential push back by recreational hunters and commercial operations it is easy to see why there has been some difficulty in reforming gun laws.
Prior to 1996 Australia did have, and possibly still has a significant gun culture, who oppose gun law reform. But that all changed in 1996. Around April 28-29 of that year a gunman armed with a semi-automatic rifle went on a rampage in Port Arthur, Tasmania, killing 35 and wounding 23 people. It was the deadliest mass shooting in Australian history. Over night it precipitated fundamental changes in the gun control laws of that country. Within 12 days of the incident John Howard, the Prime Minister of Australia, co-ordinated an agreement that created the National Firearms Agreement (NFA), also sometimes called the National Agreement on Firearms, the National Firearms Agreement and Buyback Program, or the Nationwide Agreement on Firearms. The laws to give effect to the Agreement were passed by Australian State governments only 12 days after the Port Arthur massacre. Despite lobbying against the NFA by The Christian Coalition supported by the US National Rifle Association the changes to the gun laws went ahead with broad support from all across the political spectrum and the community at large. The NFA placed tight control on semi-automatic and fully automatic weapons, but permitted their use by licensed individuals who required them for a purpose other than ‘personal protection’. The act included a gun buy-back provision. Some 643,000 firearms were handed in at a cost of $350 million. Numerous studies of the impact of the NFA have been either inconclusive or contradictory and yet, one study found that there were no mass shootings in Australia from 1997 through 2006.
Gun laws in New Zealand focus mainly on vetting firearm owners, rather than registering firearms or banning certain types of firearms. Over recent years there have been efforts to reform gun laws but these do not seem to have brought about significant change. The day after more than 40 (now updated to 50) were killed in mass shootings at two mosques in the worst terror attack in the nation’s history, The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden in a press conference said “I can tell you one thing right now: Our gun laws will change”. She went onto to say “the suspected primary shooter used five guns, including semiautomatic weapons and shotguns, adding that he obtained a gun license in November 2017 and acquired the guns legally thereafter. That will give you an indication of why we need to change our gun laws.”
So, as Yogi Berra once said is this “Déjà Vu all over again”? In terms of political response one can hope so.
Post Christchurch Massacre – The Power of the Haka
“My name is Pauline Kotlarz and I am a Luthier. I was trained through the Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City (2011-2014). Since then I have worked in a full repair and restoration shop in Wisconsin for the past three years while making new violins on the side. I have experience doing quality work on making, maintaining and repairing violins, violas and cellos. I’m originally from Cranbrook, and although it’s been a long and circuitous route to come home, I’m happy to be back and to offer my skills and services to any musicians in the area. Some common repair and maintenance services I offer include cutting new posts/bridges, fingerboard dressings, nut adjustments, peg fittings, clean&polish, new strings, varnish touch-ups, crack and seam gluing. There is no one-size fits all; everything is custom work according to the instrument and player. Verbal repair estimates are free and best done in person. I also sell my handmade violins and commercial violins with professional set-ups on a customer demand-basis. I am a small shop with limited inventory but will work with customers to procure stock items they desire at reasonable prices. My shop is based out of my home and by appointment only. I unfortunately do not work on fretted instruments (ie guitars, mandolins, etc) and I don’t do bow re-hairs; however, I’m happy to refer customers to luthiers experienced in those skills. I am passionate about what I do, and if I can be the catalyst for someone else’s improvement and enjoyment of playing music through application of my luthiery skills then I will have done my job.”
For consults and inquiries Pauline can be contacted by phone at (250)-464-0918 or by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org
“The Medium is the message” …….. This catch phrase is from the writings of Marshall McLuhan. He coined it way back in the 1960s. I never really got “it” then and I am not even sure I get it now. However, the following is a reprint of an article that I came across recently and it goes a long way to explain the recent resurgence of interest in Vinyl Recordings.
Ask a record-collecting audiophile why vinyl is back and you may hear a common refrain: “Of course vinyl’s back! It’s a more accurate reproduction of the original! It just sounds better than digital!”
To this I reply, “Does it really, though? Or is it just EQ’d better? And since when did we start caring so much about the perfect fidelity of our recordings? I grew up—as did many of you—listening to cassette tapes on a boom box. They sounded horrible, and we loved them.”
I think the real reason for vinyl’s return goes much deeper than questions of sound quality. As media analyst Marshall McLuhan famously wrote, “The medium is the message.” In other words, “the form of a medium embeds itself in any message it would transmit or convey, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived.” Nowhere does this hold truer than in the world of recorded sound.
The entire experience of vinyl helps to create its appeal. Vinyl appeals to multiple senses—sight, sound, and touch—versus digital/streaming services, which appeal to just one sense (while offering the delight of instant gratification). Records are a tactile and a visual and an auditory experience. You feel a record. You hold it in your hands. It’s not just about the size of the cover art or the inclusion of accompanying booklets (not to mention the unique beauty of picture disks and colored vinyl). A record, by virtue of its size and weight, has gravitas, has heft, and the size communicates that it matters.
Records, in all their fragility and physicality, pay proper respect to the music, proper respect to the past. They must be handled carefully, for the past deserves our preservation. They are easily scratched, and their quality is diminished as a result of those scratches. They are subject to the elements—left in the sun, they warp. Like living things, they are ephemeral.
While the process of launching Spotify and searching for a track (Any track! You have 30 million choices!) is clearly the most efficient means of listening to music, sometimes efficiency isn’t what the experience is about. Record albums are analog, the closest thing we have to the sound waves. These waves are coaxed out of a flattened, spinning disk of vinyl by a diamond. The diamond is literally taking a ride on the record. The bumps in the grooves push the diamond up and down. Everything about the process has a tactile physicality to it that differs in feel from digital services.
Steven Beeber, the vinyl aficionado and author of The Heebie-Jeebies at GBGB’s: A Secret History of Jewish Punk summed up the appeal of records this way: “As with so many things, the Luddites were right. The old ways were better. Vinyl has a richness and depth that digital media lacks, a warmth, if you will. And hell, even if it didn’t, it sure looks cool spinning on the table, and you’ve got to treat it with kindness to make it play right, so it’s more human too. As in our love lives, if you want to feel the warmth, you’ve got to show you care.”
Beeber’s last point hits at the crux of vinyl. The cumbersome process of putting on a record is akin to a ritual, an experience that mirrors the care that artists took in creating the work. First you have to find the record—a treasure hunt which might take five or 10 minutes depending on the size and organization of your collection. When you find the record, you pull it out. You remove the album from its cover. (Or, if you’re a real stickler, you remove the album from the cover, still inside the inner sleeve. Because at some point you rotated the inner sleeve 90 degrees to prevent the album from accidentally slipping out. So you pull out the album in its sleeve.) Then you place the record gently on the turntable spindle: the hole so accurately punched that you need to push the album firmly down to get it to sit right.
The album and the turntable needle are both objects that demand your respect. The record must be freed of dust, so you get out your Discwasher D4+ System. You remove the wood-handled brush from the cardboard box. You remove the small red bottle of Hi-Technology Record Cleaning Fluid, along with the tiny red-handled needle brush, both of which are cleverly nestled inside the wooden handle. You gently sweep the needle with the brush, which produces a satisfying whooshing from the speakers.
Then you apply 3-6 drops of D4 fluid to the cloth-covered face of the wood-handled brush and rub it in with the base of the bottle. Then you place the wood-handled brush on the record, careful to orient the nap in the right direction. Then you lick a finger of the other hand, place it in the center of the record, and gently rotate the platter beneath the brush. When these tasks are complete, then—and only then—do you set the platter in motion and lower the needle—slowly, ever so slowly—onto the spinning vinyl disk.
And the music begins to play.
The record experience suggests a few possible lessons for user-interface designers:
1) Designing for multiple senses can be more powerful than designing for just one. This is why mobile apps that incorporate sound (button clicks, etc.) and tactile sensations (haptic feedback) in addition to visual cues create greater user delight than those that are purely visual.
2) Always design in a manner appropriate for the medium.
3) Always consider the user’s state of mind. Consider every aspect of their psychology and how it might relate to the experience at hand. For instance, a person might find one experience preferable to another, because it reminds them of their childhood, or because that’s how they’ve always done it. (Case in point: my mother always preferred grinding her coffee beans with a hand-cranked grinder, because that’s how she always did it—not because she thought that the beans tasted better.) There might also be a touch of rebellion in the act of rejecting today’s technology for a simpler tool that worked just fine, thank you very much.
Not everything in life is about ease and speed. Believe it or not, sometimes people want to take longer, particularly if an experience evokes a past memory, satisfies a deep-rooted need, or fills a behavioral gap. Make anything too easy and its perceived value declines.
Some people, some of the time want the process of listening to music to demand respect from them, to offer an embodied ritual that removes us for a time from the daily humdrum of our digital existence. Speed has its place, but time spent can signal value and create a pleasant weight of meaning. There’s a reason our religious services aren’t five minutes long, and we shouldn’t lose sight of that as digital technologies continue to dominate our lives.
The three DVD set Sound Breaking was released a couple of years back. It was marketed as “The art and evolution of music recording is one of the 20th century’s untold stories” and the set was meant to set the story straight. It achieved some of that but the story was heavily slanted towards pop music and pop culture. For me the first disc, with its explorations of the Beatles, is the most interesting, while the remainder of the set about, rap, hip hop, sampling, etc, is of no interest to me. Admittedly the object of the exercise was to explore the history of pop music but in doing so it omitted at least one of the recording industry’s most notable personalities – Rudy van Gelder. For those who are unaware of the name or his significance Rudy was responsible for recording a very significant slice of the jazz spectrum in the 1950s, 60s, and right up into the new century. He is the creator of what became known as the Blue Note Sound.
This is his Wikipedia entry:
Rudolph Van Gelder (November 2, 1924 – August 25, 2016) was an American recording engineer specialized in jazz. Regarded as the most important recording engineer of jazz by some observers, Van Gelder recorded several thousand jazz sessions, including many recognized as classics, in a career which spanned more than half a century. Van Gelder recorded many of the great names in the genre, including John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Thelonius Monk, Sonny Rollins, Art Blakey, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Horace Silver, Grant Green as well as many others. He worked with many record companies but was most closely associated with Blue Note Records. The New York Times wrote his work included “acknowledged classics like [John] Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, [Miles] Davis’s Walkin’, Herbie Hancock’s Maiden Voyage, Sonny Rollins’s Saxophone Colossus, and Horace Silver’s Song for My Father .
In this day and age of the resurgence of vinyl recordings I think this is one of his most significant comments:
“The biggest distorter is the LP itself. I’ve made thousands of LP masters. I used to make 17 a day, with two lathes going simultaneously, and I’m glad to see the LP go. As far as I’m concerned, good riddance. It was a constant battle to try to make that music sound the way it should. It was never any good. And if people don’t like what they hear in digital, they should blame the engineer who did it. Blame the mastering house. Blame the mixing engineer. That’s why some digital recordings sound terrible, and I’m not denying that they do, but don’t blame the medium.” (Audio Magazine 1995)
His fame still lives on and the following is a reprint of an article from the now defunct Audio Magazine. It has recently been resurrected resurfaced by the editorial staff at JazzProfiles. Steve Cerra introduces the article:
“I never thought much about the quality of the sound on the Blue Note LPs that I purchased in the 1950s and 60s. I didn’t need to. Blue Note’s sound quality was something that one could take for granted because the now, legendary Rudy van Gelder was the commanding force behind it and, as you’ll come to understand after reading the following interview, he obviously gave it a great deal of thought.
The sound on Blue Note’s albums had a “presence” that wrapped the listener in an audio environment which was dynamic and vibrant. The sound came forward; it reached out; it enveloped. Rudy made the sound seem as though it was emanating from musicians who were performing it in one’s living room. In a way, this is more than an analogy because Rudy’s initial recording studio was the living room in his parents’ home in Hackensack, NJ before he built his own studio in near-by Englewoods Cliffs, NJ.
Rudy doesn’t talk much about himself or his views on the subject of sound engineering. Fortunately, James Rozzi was able to interview him at length and publish Rudy’s responses to his questions in the November 1995 edition of the now defunct Audio Magazine.
The editorial staff at JazzProfiles thought this rare glimpse of Rudy van Gelder discussing himself and his technical approach to sound recording would make an interesting feature for its readers. It is hard to imagine let alone conceive of what The World of Jazz would have been like if Rudy Van Gelder hadn’t been around.
James Rozzi original article (copyright protected)
“Dr. Rudy Van Gelder’s formal education was in optometry, but his heart and the majority of his professional years have been devoted full-time to the recording industry. Ask any Jazz buff about Rudy, and they’ll name him as the recording engineer responsible for all those classic Blue Note and Prestige Records, among almost countless others.
This interview, one of the very few that Rudy has granted in his 40 plus years in the business, was conducted in his Englewood Cliffs, NJ studio, a gorgeous facility just across the George Washington Bridge from Manhattan. I thank him for sharing his history and his views.
It’s a given in the Jazz world that you have set the standards for Jazz recordings for the past 40 years. In an ever-changing industry, how do you continue to maintain consistent quality in your recordings?
I prefer to do my own masters, my own editing. By ‘my own,’ I mean, I want it to be done here. It’s not that I influence what it is. It’s just that I need to be involved in the whole process – up to and including the finished product – in order to give my clients what they expect of me, which is the reason why they are coming here. They agree upon that before we can do anything. This is really the only major stipulation I have, that I do the process. It’s not because it is expensive, because the expense is minimal. I purposely keep it that way because I don’t want the money to be a part of their decision. The point is that I’d like to have at least some measure of control over the finished sound before it’s sent for replication to the plant.
This is contrary to the way most studios work.
The business, at least from my point of view, has really become fragmented – more like the movie industry. There are engineers who do Jazz recording who don’t own the studio and don’t have anything to do with the maintenance, ownership or operation of the studio. They just go to a studio as a freelance engineer and use the facility for their own clients. Obviously, this is not the situation here. I own the studio, I run the studio and I maintain it. It’s my responsibility, I’m here everyday, not somebody else. It reflects me.
Being involved in the complete digital post-production is highly unusual for any studio. Would you please explain it?
Once we have gotten to the point of recording and mixing the two-track tape that has all of the tunes the client wants for the CD, the next step is to get together with the producer or the musician, whoever is in charge of the project – and sequence it. We have to put the tunes in the order that they will appear in on the CD, get all the timings in between the songs precise, and takes all the noises out. As for the medium for that, the most common medium is DAT [digital audio tape]. Now most people – including musicians and producers, except for those who work here – believe that this is a master tape. That format was not designed to be and is incapable of being a master. There are other elements required for CD replication that cannot be incorporated into a DAT. There is just no room on a DAT for the information which tells your CD player to go to track one when you put a CD in and press “play.” The information that makes this possible has to be incorporated on the CD. The DAT must be transferred to another medium that incorporates this information. This studio uses a CD-R. Prior to the CD-R, 1630 was the de facto standard. I consider that now obsolete. Most recording studios do not get involved in this process.
If most recording studios don’t get involved in digital post-production, then how is it commonly done?
The very fact that most recording studios don’t care to do it has created the existence of what are called mastering houses. They don’t have studios. They don’t even have a microphone. They just put the numbers on there and then transfer from one medium to another.
Why are you so concerned with accomplishing this process yourself? Isn’t the equipment expensive?
Yes, it’s very expensive, very difficult to acquire and maintain. The problem is that there can be processing at this stage, quite extensive processing.
Intentionally changing the sound from that of the DAT?
Intentionally changing the sound! Changing the loudness to softness, the highs to lows. Yes, it’s a very elaborate procedure; it is a part of the recording process that most people don’t even know exists.
Who is responsible for making the decision to alter the sound at this late a stage in the recording process?
Whoever is following the course of the project, usually whoever is paying for it or their representative. I’m now defining why I insist on doing everything myself. And you can extend this into the reissue process too. Reissuing is nothing but post-production. The people who were originally involved in the recording are no longer there, or they no longer own it. These mastering decisions on reissues are being made by someone else, someone affiliated with the company who now owns the material.
What are your feelings on issuing alternate takes?
Now, to me that’s just a sad event which has befallen the record industry. The rejected outtakes have been renamed “alternate takes” for marketing reasons. It’s a disservice to the artist. It’s a disservice to the music. It’s also rampant throughout the land, and I’m just telling you how I feel about it. I would recommend to all musicians: Don’t let the outtakes get out of your hands. Of course, that may be easier said than done.
You must be disappointed by much of what has been released as alternate takes.
Yes, when I hear some of this stuff, I’m reminded of all the problems I had, particularly on these outtakes. It’s like reliving all of the difficulties of my life again. So I don’t take a lot of pleasure in that because I know I can do a lot better now, and all that does is reinforce my uneasiness. Of course, when it was a recording problem, the music was usually still so good that it was worth it to me. And the fact that it’s still being heard— in many cases being heard better than ever before—is an incredible experience. And it’s clean, with no noise. I don’t like to complain too much.
I feel that way very often myself, the way you described, being able to hear the music better than ever. I’m not a person who locks into the sound as closely as I do the music. The music is all-important to me, but sometimes I become distracted by how bad the sound is. It seems that a big problem in translating those old recordings onto CD is the sound of the bass. It becomes very boomy.
Well, you can’t blame that entirely on the people who are doing the mastering. That particular quality is inherent in the recording techniques of the time—the way bass players played, the way they sounded, the way their instruments sounded. They don’t sound like that now. The music has changed the way the artists play. Now everything has got to be loud. A loud .drummer today is a lot louder than a loud drummer of 30 or even 20 years ago. It’s all relative. But as far as that certain quality you’re talking about, some of it is very good, by the way. There were some excellent bass recordings made at that time because the bass player and I got together on what we were trying to do.
Considering the reverence given to the historical Blue Note recordings and the fact that they were accomplished direct to two-track, do you get many requests nowadays to record direct to two-track?
Usually they say, “I want to go direct to two-track like the old days.” And I say, “Sure, I’ll do that.” I can still do it, or we can record to the 24-track digital machine. As far as the musicians are concerned, regarding their performance out in the studio, that’s transparent to them. There’s no difference in the setup. I sort of think two-track while I’m recording and actually run a two-track recording of the session, which very often serves as the finished mix. But this is the real world now. The musicians will listen to the playback, and the bass player will say, “Gee, I played two bad notes going into the bridge of the out-melody. Can you fix that, Rudy?” Now, it used to be that when a client asked for a two-track session, I would never run a multi-track backup. They didn’t want to get involved in it, for money reasons. They didn’t want to spend the money for the tape or didn’t want to have to mix it after the session. I went along with that for a long time. But the bass player would still come in, hoping to fix wrong notes, and I’d sit there like a fool and say, ‘Well, I can’t do anything about it. The producer didn’t want to spend the money for multi-tracking.’ So I decided I wasn’t going to do that anymore. I think of it as a two-track date— we’re talking about a small acoustic jazz band now, not any kind of heavy production thing—and I run a multi-track backup. Then when the bass player asks to fix a couple of notes, I look at the producer or whoever is paying for the session, and that becomes his decision, not mine. He now has to answer the bass player.
So the final product may consist of both multi-track and two-track recordings?
That happens. Right. And my life is a lot happier. And the producers have come around a little bit too.
How did you first become affiliated with Alfred Lion of Blue Note Records?
There was a saxophone player and arranger by the name of Gil Melle. He had a little band and a concept of writing, and I recorded him. This was before I met Alfred. I recorded it in my Hackensack studio in my parents’ home. So somehow—and I was not a party to it—he sold that to Alfred to be released on Blue Note. And Alfred wanted to make another one. So he took that recording to the place he was going. It happened to be in New York at the WOR recording studios. He played it for the engineer, who Alfred had been using up until that time, and the engineer said, “I can’t get that sound. I can’t record that here. You’d better go to whoever did it.” Remember, I wasn’t there; this is how it was related to me. And that’s what brought Alfred to me. He came to me, and he was there forever.
Those Blue Note records, they’re just so beautiful…. Masterpieces.
Did Alfred and you work at producing those jazz masterpieces? Did he have you splice solos?
Yes, he did. He was tough to work for compared to anyone else. He knew what he wanted. He knew what that album should sound like before he even came into the studio. He made it tough for me. It was definitely headache time and never easy. On the other hand, I knew it was important, and he had a quality that gave me confidence in him. The whole burden of creating for him—what he had in mind—that was mine. And he knew how to extract the maximum effort from the musicians and from me too. He was a master at that. I think one of the reasons our relationship lasted so long was because he listened to what other people were doing parallel to our product. I don’t believe he ever heard anything that was better than what we were doing. I have no doubt that if he had heard someone doing it better than what I was doing, he would have gone there. But he never did, and that made it possible for me to build this studio. I knew he was always there.
Once you developed that sound, you knew exactly what to do initially. When the musicians walked in, you knew right where everything should be regarding microphone placement and all of that. And you went from there. From that point, it was just minor alterations according to that session.
That’s very well put, and do you know why that was? Because Alfred used to come here often. He used to bring the same people out in various combinations. They all knew what I was like. Everybody would come in and know exactly where their stand was, where they would play. It was home. There were no strangers. They knew the results of what they were going to do. There was never any question about it, so they could focus on the music.
Then when Bob Weinstock of Prestige Records started with you, there was that whole crowd of musicians, sometime crossing over personnel.
Well, Weinstock would very often follow Alfred around, but with a different kind of project in mind. And you know, when I experimented, I would experiment on Bob Weinstock’s projects. Bob didn’t think much of sound; he still doesn’t. He doesn’t care. So if I got a new microphone and I wanted to try it on a saxophone player, I would never try it on Alfred’s date. Weinstock didn’t give a damn, and if it worked out, great. Alfred would benefit from that.
I’ve always thought of the Prestige dates as a more accurate indication of what was happening in the clubs. Although I know that after a Blue Note session wound down, the musicians could go out into the clubs and play original tunes, with Prestige it was mostly standards. That’s what they went out and jammed on. And that deserves documentation as well.
Absolutely. I agree with that, and I’ve said so, though not as well as you did. I wouldn’t want the world to be without them. There are people who say that the difference between Blue Note and Prestige is rehearsal. That’s just glib. That’s bullshit. That’s not even a fair way to put it. It resulted in a lot of my favorite recordings. You know, those Miles [Davis] Prestige things … they can’t hurt those things. It’s really one of the most gratifying things I’ve done, the fact that people can hear those. It’s really good.
When you were in the control booth listening to the sessions, were you ever aware that those sides would end up as classics?
Well, you can’t see into the future. I had no way of knowing that. But I knew every session was important, particularly the Blue Note stuff. The Blue Note sessions seemed more important at the time because the procedure was more demanding. But in retrospect, the Prestige recordings of Miles Davis, the Red Garland with Philly Joe Jones, the Jackie McLean and Art Taylor, the early Coltrane—sessions like that—turned out to be equally if not more important. I always felt the activity we were engaged in was more significant than the politics of the time, to the extent that everything else that was happening was unimportant. And I still feel that way. I treat every session … every session is important to me.
Have you done any classical or pop?
There was a long period of time parallel to those years when I was working for Vox, a classical company. I would get tapes from all over Europe and master those tapes for release in this country. I did that for 10 years or more. So I had three things going: Blue Note, Prestige, and Vox. Each of them was very active. And I did some classical recordings: Classical artists, solo piano recordings, a couple of quartets.
How about pop?
A lot of that popular stuff came with Creed Taylor later in the ’70s. He was oriented more toward trying to commercialize jazz music. You’re familiar with his CTI label? That’s another world altogether. That’s when we started to be conscious of the charts. I love the sound of strings, particularly the way Creed Taylor handled them with Don Sebesky. And I love an exciting brass sound too. Creed is a genius as far as combining these things that we’re talking about. I’m not at all isolated in the world of a five-piece be-bop band. As a matter of fact, sonically, this other thing is more rewarding.
What are your feelings on digital versus analog?
The linear storage of digital information is idealized. It can be perfect. It can never be perfect in analog because you cannot reproduce the varying voltages through the different translations from one medium to another. You go from sound to a microphone to a stylus cutting a groove. Then you have to play that back from another stylus wiggling in a groove, and then translate it back to voltage. The biggest distorter is the LP itself. I’ve made thousands of LP masters. I used to make 17 a day, with two lathes going simultaneously, and I’m glad to see the LP go. As far as I’m concerned, good riddance. It was a constant battle to try to make that music sound the way it should. It was never any good. And if people don’t like what they hear in digital, they should blame the engineer who did it. Blame the mastering house. Blame the mixing engineer. That’s why some digital recordings sound terrible, and I’m not denying that they do, but don’t blame the medium.
A lot of people argue that digital is a colder, sterile sound. Where do you think that comes from?
Where does it come from? The engineers. You’ve noticed they’ve attributed the sound to the medium. They say digital is cold, so they’ve given it an attribute, but linear digital has no attributes. It’s just a medium for storage. It’s what you do with it. A lot of this has to do with the writing in consumer magazines. They’ve got to talk about something. What should be discussed is the way CDs are being marketed as 20-bit CDs, but there is no such thing as a 20-bit CD. Every CD sold to the public is a 16-bit CD. You can record 20-bit and it is better than 16-bit, but it has to be reduced to 16-bit before you can get it onto the CD. History is repeating itself. It reminds me of when they marketed mono recordings as “re-mastered in stereo.” All they did was put the highs on one side, put the lows on the other, and add a lot of reverb to make it believable. Then they’d sell it as a stereo record.
Do you feel today’s jazz musicians stack up to the players of the 1950s and ’60s, Blue Note’s heyday?
Well, there are a lot of great kids around. You know, technically they’re great. I feel they’re suffering from a disadvantage of not being able to play in the kind of environment that existed then. You don’t want me to make a broad statement saying, “Gee whiz, it was better 20 years ago than it is now.” First of all, I don’t believe that. I don’t even think of it that way.
Do you see yourself as a technician and an artist?
Absolutely. When you mention the technical end, the first thing I think of is making sure all the tools are working right. The artistic part is what you do with them. The artistic part involves everything in this place. There’s nothing here that isn’t here for an artistic reason. That applies to the studio. The whole environment is created to be artistic. It’s my studio and it’s been this way for a long, long time, and people like it. It’s even mellowed through the years, and people are aware of that. Musicians are sensitive to that. Someone came in here only yesterday and said: ‘If the walls could only repeat what has happened here ….’”
Posted by Steve Cerra (copyright protected)
As I have previously posted a similar blog some time back I can be accused of belaboring the point. That is probably true. However, I think it is important that the reputation of a sound engineer of such prime importance as Rudy van Gelder should not be shuffled aside.